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I've posed this question numerous times in numerous situations and still don't understand what "spiritual" means.

 

Anyone help? Remember the rule when you were school: you can't use the word you are trying to define in the definition!

 

spir·i·tu·al (spr-ch-l)

adj.

1. Of, relating to, consisting of, or having the nature of spirit; not tangible or material.

 

Spritual is an intangible. Flesh is one thing and spirit another. Flesh is seen and easily grasped with the mind but spirit is not seen with the physical eyes and is like the wind. You know it is there and can feel the effects of it but cannot see from where it comes and to where it goes.

 

Here are some contrasting comparison terms that might help.... This is my personal experience and view and only given as an aid as it may not be applicable in all cases.

 

Spiritual sees God as one with all creation. Religion sees God as separate.

Spiritual teaches unconditional love and acceptance. Religion has an 'us' and a 'them'

Spiritual doesn't need an organization. Religion re4quires one.

Spiritual doesn't need rules or controls. Religion needs rules and controls.

Spirituality doesn't force itself on anybody. Religion requires Proselytizing

Spirituality teaches a God of Love and Peace. Religion teaches a God of emotions such as jealousy, hate, anger, vengefulness and changing his mind.

Spirituality teaches trust only in God. Religion teaches trust in a book or individual.

Spirituality uses love to attract. Religion uses hate or fear.

Spirituality is grateful. Religion is prideful.

Spirituality relinguishes opinions. Religion is very opinionated.

Spirituality requires deprogramming. Religion requires programing.

 

Hopefully, this gives you some taste for the definition of spirituality in a round about way as it is difficult to define something intangible in tangible words.

 

Love in Christ,

JM

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I appreciate the effort but if you use "spirit" to define spiritual, nothing is gained.

 

I don't see spiritual as needing to be contrasted to religion. Although the poetry of what you posted is certainly aethestically pleasing.

 

Perhaps I could better word my question: What do you perceive as your spriritual needs? People talk about going to church or doing this or that to have their spiritual needs met but in all the conversations (in person and via the web) I've had no one has been able to explain a spiritual need as anything that wouldn't be equally explained as a psychological need.

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I appreciate the effort but if you use "spirit" to define spiritual, nothing is gained.

 

I don't see spiritual as needing to be contrasted to religion. Although the poetry of what you posted is certainly aethestically pleasing.

 

Perhaps I could better word my question: What do you perceive as your spriritual needs? People talk about going to church or doing this or that to have their spiritual needs met but in all the conversations (in person and via the web) I've had no one has been able to explain a spiritual need as anything that wouldn't be equally explained as a psychological need.

 

Hi OA,

 

Okay. It seems the word spiritual is used very loosely by many. I gave you my definition to contrast what it is not to me and found that as the most effective way to communicate it, however, allow me to try without using the word 'spirit' and then address your re-wording of the question.

 

"What is Spiritually to me"

It is the essence of ones true nature that is beyond mind or body yet is inclusive of both.

 

The problem of course with that statement is it may appear contradictory or still not really give one an understanding or suitable answer. At best, for most, it just raises more questions.

 

Now for your re-wording. I can only tell you what I perceive for others as far as 'spiritual needs' because I see the the Spirit as having no needs. It is complete in itself. However, Mind and body has needs that can't be seen and perhaps that is what people refer to as 'spiritual needs'. Many in my view, consider the etheric mind and body their real spirit and the physical body with mind, emotions a shadow of this spirit. It then of course has needs to evolve to correct its weaknesses to stop its perceived sufferrngs. This spirit still sees itself as a separate identity and takes up human life in one possible attempt to correct its perceived weaknesses. Therefore one believing thus would express needs such as patience , peace, joy, love, and other fruits of the spirit as 'their spiritual needs'. Of course then one could relate or sound the same as psychological needs since the physical is a projection of spirit. The truth however, in my view, is we are already one and perfect in 'Christ' or 'God' and have merely to rediscover who we are by deprogramming the projections of the individual mind which doesn't exist in true reality.

 

Sorry if this got too deep or makes no sense. It is only my present view as best I can relate to consider.

 

Love in Christ,

JM

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Wow, these are good posts. As soon as I read this discussion on the word spiritual I dug out my books written by Joan Chittister. My favorite is "Called to Question" A Spiritual Memoir. A must read for anyone interested in these posts. The whole book explodes with thoughts about this topic. Her last paragraph in chapter 2 "Spirituality: Beyond the boundaries of religion. " says, "Spirituality is a commitment to immersion in God, to the seeking that has no end. It is a consciousness of engrossment in God that defies convention, that lives beyond convention, that eclipses convention. Religion, the finger pointing at the moon, is not the moon. Simply keeping the rules, accepting the conventions, and loving the pomp that comes with religion will not get us there. For that we need a spirituality of search. Thanks for reminding me I have this book in my closet. Bob VE :)

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Wow, these are good posts. As soon as I read this discussion on the word spiritual I dug out my books written by Joan Chittister. My favorite is "Called to Question" A Spiritual Memoir. A must read for anyone interested in these posts. The whole book explodes with thoughts about this topic. Her last paragraph in chapter 2 "Spirituality: Beyond the boundaries of religion. " says, "Spirituality is a commitment to immersion in God, to the seeking that has no end. It is a consciousness of engrossment in God that defies convention, that lives beyond convention, that eclipses convention. Religion, the finger pointing at the moon, is not the moon. Simply keeping the rules, accepting the conventions, and loving the pomp that comes with religion will not get us there. For that we need a spirituality of search. Thanks for reminding me I have this book in my closet. Bob VE :)

 

Thanks for sharing Bob VE,

 

I especially like the phrase "Spiritually is a commitment to immersion in God". And also the rest including the part concerning the comparison of finger pointing to the moon not being the moon. Perhaps some of these words will help answer OA questions but as you seem to know, words are a limitation to experience.

 

Love in Christ,

JM

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I like the description in Marcus Borg & N.T. Wright, The meaning of Jesus, 1999--to paraphrase some of it:

 

Christian spirituality conveys a sense of the presence and love of God known and experienced in the midst of all sorts of ordinary environments. It embraces the whole person. Spirituality means the various practices of prayer, contemplation and reading that have characterized Christians from the very beginning...It is sacramental while firmly rejecting the magical. Christian spirituality meditates on the Christ of faith and the Jesus of history, believing them to be one and the same, and discovering this person as living, active, present, loving and grieving; recognizing in him the human face of the one true God. It is a matter of coming in trust before a deeply loving parent. Insofar as God and humans inhabit different spheres, Jesus inhabits both, and invites us to do the same.

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All these answers were meaningful to me...especially the contrast between spirituality and religion by Joseph.

 

October, you asked what is the difference between a psychological need and a spiritual one--isn't it likely that all psychological needs can be met by people, or some earthly condition? Whereas with spiritual needs we're talking about longing that nothing in this world can satisfy...the "God-shaped hole in the heart."

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All these answers were meaningful to me...especially the contrast between spirituality and religion by Joseph.

 

October, you asked what is the difference between a psychological need and a spiritual one--isn't it likely that all psychological needs can be met by people, or some earthly condition? Whereas with spiritual needs we're talking about longing that nothing in this world can satisfy...the "God-shaped hole in the heart."

 

Wonderful post rivanna. I think your last paragraph may be the most direct and best answer geared to my perception of what October is looking for. I hope her question is answered to her satisfaction.

 

Love in Christ,

JM

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I applaud all descriptions as they are inspiroring. My attempt is : Spirituality is a force that is capable of producing higher forms of consciousness. Pure consciousness is its source, an energy that is propelling man further on, ascending to the higher layers of the mind, developing all aspects as it evolves.

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I appreciate what the Presbyterians came up with now that we have an Office of Spiritual Formation:

 

Spiritual formation is the activity of the Holy Spirit which molds our lives into the likeness of Jesus Christ. This likeness is one of deep intimacy with God and genuine compassion for all of creation. The Spirit works not only in the lives of individuals but also in the church, shaping it into the Body of Christ. We cooperate with this work of the Spirit through certain practices that make us more open and responsive to the Spirit's touch, disciplines such as sabbath keeping, works of compassion and justice, discernment, worship, hospitality, spiritual friendships, and contemplative silence.

 

— Office of Spiritual Formation, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

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Hi OA,

 

Okay. It seems the word spiritual is used very loosely by many. I gave you my definition to contrast what it is not to me and found that as the most effective way to communicate it, however, allow me to try without using the word 'spirit' and then address your re-wording of the question.

 

"What is Spiritually to me"

It is the essence of ones true nature that is beyond mind or body yet is inclusive of both.

 

The problem of course with that statement is it may appear contradictory or still not really give one an understanding or suitable answer. At best, for most, it just raises more questions.

 

Now for your re-wording. I can only tell you what I perceive for others as far as 'spiritual needs' because I see the the Spirit as having no needs. It is complete in itself. However, Mind and body has needs that can't be seen and perhaps that is what people refer to as 'spiritual needs'. Many in my view, consider the etheric mind and body their real spirit and the physical body with mind, emotions a shadow of this spirit. It then of course has needs to evolve to correct its weaknesses to stop its perceived sufferrngs. This spirit still sees itself as a separate identity and takes up human life in one possible attempt to correct its perceived weaknesses. Therefore one believing thus would express needs such as patience , peace, joy, love, and other fruits of the spirit as 'their spiritual needs'. Of course then one could relate or sound the same as psychological needs since the physical is a projection of spirit. The truth however, in my view, is we are already one and perfect in 'Christ' or 'God' and have merely to rediscover who we are by deprogramming the projections of the individual mind which doesn't exist in true reality.

 

Sorry if this got too deep or makes no sense. It is only my present view as best I can relate to consider.

 

Love in Christ,

JM

 

I'm really interested in this notion that Spirit has no needs. If that's true then perhaps it's the other way around. Our needs are met by Spirit (i.e. the specific pattern of Godstuff that we eminate from), rather than something meeting our spiritual needs. If our Spirit needs anything, it's for us to get the hell out of the way!

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I'm really interested in this notion that Spirit has no needs. If that's true then perhaps it's the other way around. Our needs are met by Spirit (i.e. the specific pattern of Godstuff that we eminate from), rather than something meeting our spiritual needs. If our Spirit needs anything, it's for us to get the hell out of the way!

 

When I speak of the Spirit that has no needs, it is refering to the One or God. It is my experience and view that in true reality there is only God. There is nothing more or anyone else. And yes, all our needs are met by Spirit/God. All individualized consciousness are phenomena that come from the One. We refer to them as spirits because it is attached to an identity and is in a sense not physical but does manifest in the physical. When we get out of the way, both in physical and spiritual form we find we have no form yet are manifested in all forms and there is only One. All else is phenomena or make believe fiction worn like a costume of many colors til we awaken to our true nature. When awakened, you will say as Jesus did, I and my Father are One. Subject and Object disappear along with 'here' or 'there' , time ceases and no languaging is necessary.

 

Love in Christ,

JM

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The spirituality within comes from no human source and leads to no human end, but when we comply with what the soul suggest, we gain a momentum and an awareness that unites us to the spirit in all things.

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All individualized consciousness are phenomena that come from the One. We refer to them as spirits because it is attached to an identity and is in a sense not physical but does manifest in the physical.

 

That reminds me of the qualified non-dualism of Ramanuja. Cool stuff. B)

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"The whole world is ensouled by the marvellous and mighty Presence of the Divine. Every speck of space is filled with the infinite Power and Glory of the Divine. Every atom is charged with Its Love and Ecstasy. Here and now anyone can experience the Divine in all Its perfections." -- Swami Omkarananda < http://www.omkarananda-ashram.org/saying.htm

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  • 14 years later...
18 hours ago, Kellerman said:

Awe is a human experience, spirituality is a broader concept that many of us perceive as something that goes beyond just individual human experience.

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7 hours ago, romansh said:
On 2/7/2021 at 7:32 AM, Kellerman said:

Awe is a human experience, spirituality is a broader concept that many of us perceive as something that goes beyond just individual human experience.

Not sure if you meant to add your own comments or not, Rom, but it certainly does encourage the question - is not spirituality also 'just' another human experience, like awe?  Certainly with the wide and diverse understanding of spirituality between individuals, it does seem to be an individual experience, just like awe is.

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I do think there are different levels of experience. There’s a “state of flow”; which could be experiencing the unity of the crowd at a soccer match, or a rock concert, or enjoying an extreme sport. But then there are the peak experiences, described by Abraham Maslow as “the moments of highest happiness and fulfillment.” There’s the wonder of a discovery, there’s gratitude at being loved, and at the power of love to change ourselves and others.

At times most of us feel the pull of something, of being connected to a whole that embraces our little selves, that is in some sense absolutely “good.” Maybe even a sense of awe, that pinnacle of consciousness, where we see ourselves in something else, or indeed lose all sense of distinction, when the boundaries dissolve. We might describe it as God, variously emphasizing the loving aspect, or the beautiful, or the true, or simply as a mystery that we can touch the edges of but can’t know. These experiences might even lead to a state of self-transcendence. Sometimes, maybe just once or twice in a lifetime, we might have a breakthrough moment so strange and wonderful that nothing is ever quite the same again. We might even redefine the priorities in our lives. After all, the world is over there, and it’s astonishing. We’re here, and we’re the only starting point we have. Surely we’re related. If there’s a meaning behind it we want to know, to be part of it. And in so far as we’re rational creatures we need a reason for living and a framework to live by. Rules are useful for that. And life is more than rules and logic. Hope would be a nice thing too.

At it best, religion, or spirituality, is a way of enabling it to come at will, rather than just on occasion. Perhaps even leading to “plateau experience” – the province of saints and mystics who reportedly live in it all the time.

Not that I've got far towards any of that.

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16 hours ago, PaulS said:

Not sure if you meant to add your own comments or not, Rom, but it certainly does encourage the question - is not spirituality also 'just' another human experience, like awe?  Certainly with the wide and diverse understanding of spirituality between individuals, it does seem to be an individual experience, just like awe is.

Well, since it's me who was quoted, I might as well comment. 

The context of that comment comes from the brainwaves of people experiencing awe being measured. 

My response is that to me, and to many others, spirituality is beyond just the individual perception of it. 

I/we perceive it as a vast interconnectedness. Something that exists regardless of the perceptions of the individuals.

Obviously, not everyone agrees with that, and obviously each person has their own take, but for me, spirituality goes well beyond just my personal neural responses. 

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10 hours ago, Kellerman said:

Obviously, not everyone agrees with that, and obviously each person has their own take, but for me, spirituality goes well beyond just my personal neural responses. 

Quite possibly, but how do you differentiate between a neural response and an 'other' response - e.g. spirituality?  Or how do you recognize that your response to spirituality isn't in fact just a neural response to your perception?

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6 hours ago, PaulS said:

Quite possibly, but how do you differentiate between a neural response and an 'other' response - e.g. spirituality?  Or how do you recognize that your response to spirituality isn't in fact just a neural response to your perception?

It's not something I can or try to prove. 

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K, I wanted to come back to this because I don't want to just not answer. However, I'm a bit on the back foot as I was quoted completely out of context and would have framed the quoted statement completely differently had I initiated my own contributions to this thread. 

So here goes. I study quite extensively traditional indigenous ways of knowing. There are a lot of I initiatives in the north to coordinate the traditional knowledge of indigenous people with scientific research in terms of managing resources because different forms of knowledge can work synergistically. 

Anyway, when I think of spirituality, I don't really come from a Judeo-Christian tradition, I come more from an Indigenous tradition because it's the first manifestation of spirituality that ever resonated with me. 

A huge difference in many north american indigenous ways of knowing is that all of nature participates in spirituality. In many indigenous languages most words are verbs, not nouns, because "things" are not devoid of identity. So a beach is not a noun, beach is what water does when it meets sand. 

So a human experience of this spiritual connectedness might be experienced through cognitive perceptions, but that of a tree is not. The tree's spiritual experience being no less critical than that of the human's. 

It can be posited that the human cognitive experience actually obfuscates the greater spiritual experience and is what makes it so difficult for us to connect with it, while an insect might do so with ease. That's just one perspective though, and only for the sake of illustration. 

My overall point is that *some* people have this way of knowing. Others don't, and that's fine. But I feel absolutely no need or capability to objectively prove or convince anyone of this way of knowing. 

"Way of knowing" is an indigenous way of describing their connection to nature and spirit, that's why I use that phrase, although like most translations of indigenous phrases, it's an imperfect translation. 

Only since connecting with indigenous ways of knowing have I found spiritual interconnections in certain interpretations of Christianity and Islam. 

So to put it simply, I see spirituality as a connection to something beyond myself and my own neural reactions to it, which I cannot and feel no inclination to try and prove. 

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